04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
3 Jaime Fernandez (LNTF)
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Seven takeaways from Wednesday: Spanish day in the BCL

MIES (Switzerland) - Unicaja, Surne Bilbao and Lenovo Tenerife were all victorious on Wednesday, with MHP RIESEN joining the party with another comfortable win, this time on the road in Istanbul, rising to 3-0 in Group E.

Like every other Tuesday and Wednesday, here to help you through the day are our seven takeaways, because we're in Season Seven, and it's a perfect number.

#1 Baloncesto Champions League

Spain won everything in 2022. All the national team competitions, with the crowning moment at the FIBA EuroBasket 2022, and we also had a Spanish Final in the Basketball Champions League, at the Final Four held in Spain, of course.

Spanish teams won four of the six BCL titles so far, Spanish teams missed only one Final, back in 2018 when AEK defeated AS Monaco in the title game, and Spanish teams are currently leading groups A, D, F and G in the Baloncesto Champions League.

It's only fitting that Wednesday was another day revolving around the teams from the Liga Endesa. Unicaja, Surne Bilbao and Lenovo Tenerife got three wins on the day, taking their total to 13-2 in the BCL this season.

It's not too late to start those Spanish language lessons...

#2 Safest bet for Round of 16

There are some dominant teams this season, but one team is already on the phone with the traveling agency, arranging the baggage drop off and check in procedure for the Round of 16. It's Surne Bilbao.

With an 85-80 win over Igokea m:tel in Laktasi, Bilbao jumped up to 3-0 in Group D, being two wins clear of everybody else in the hunt for the top spot. Two games up with three games to go sounds awesome, and then you add even more weight to it because Bilbao will play two of those at home, against ERA Nymburk and Igokea m:tel.

Other words - this is their group to win or lose.

So take a bow, coach Jaume Ponsarnau! Taking over the job after Alex Mumbru's four years at the helm wasn't the easiest decision and it could've gone wrong, easily. But Ponsarnau is doing a marvelous job, taking his team to 3-0 here and to 3-3 in the Liga Endesa.

Man in Black are back.

#3 Something similar in Group E

Bilbao have the best situation in their group to get the early bird tickets to Round of 16, but they aren't the most impressive team of the Regular Season so far. That one belongs to MHP RIESEN, the team that finished third last season, and looks to improve this time around.

The story is similar to the one of Bilbao. Long term coach left, new guy came in and delivered, and boy, he delivered big time, because MHP RIESEN are up to 3-0 while being +70 in points' difference, and getting two road wins - THEY'VE DONE IT IN JERUSALEM AND ISTANBUL!

Darussafaka were actually better to start the game, but Ludwigsburg guys held them to just eight points in the second quarter. Once they took the lead, they never looked back and opened up a 90-70 win, with two guys getting 15-5-5 or better.

Prentiss Hubb finished with 17 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds, Justin Johnson had 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Once again, their three-point defense was off the charts, after holding Jerusalem to one made three-pointer, they held Darussafaka to just three in 21 tries.

Overall, MHP RIESEN allowed just 11 three-pointers over their first three BCL games. Just 11. In 66 shots attempted.

#4 Tenerife's Argentina cheat code

Lenovo Tenerife were on the road in Israel, and came out with a 95-57 win over Bnei Ofek Dist Herzliya. The final score is shocking when you consider that Herzliya were actually hanging around until mid-second quarter, when Tenerife used their favorite "Argentina" play.

It's actually not a play. It's a cheat code. Because it has so many options, once Marcelinho Huertas gets the pick-and-pop on the top from Tim Abromaitis, while Sasu Salin sets a cross screen under the rim for Giorgi Shermadini. So many options out of it, but the usual one is Huertas feeding Shermadini for an easy layup.

It's so simple, but so lethal and destroys you as an opponent because you know what's coming and you can't do anything to stop it. Because even though you know what's coming up, they know you know. So they have a counter ready, where both Marcelinho and Shermadini reject the screens and just go for the simplest of passes while the defense is trying to navigate the screens.

All of this was part of Lenovo Tenerife's basketball school on the day. They dished out 27 assists, the most by any team in the BCL this season. Defending champs, keep that in mind.

#5 Basque Mamba delivers

Unicaja were troubled by PAOK mateco in the Game of the Week, but a rock solid fourth quarter propelled them to a 77-63 win. This was their best defensive fourth quarter in BCL so far, they allowed only 9 points, beating the previous mark of 13 points allowed in the last ten minutes.

Unicaja also allowed less than 70 points in back-to-back games, and they are looking like a contender, standing tall at 3-0 in their group. While Ibon Navarro's defensive schemes deserve to be talked about, the offensive plan was plain and simple: Give the ball to the Basque Mamba and move out of the way.

Dario Brizuela exploded for 27 points, the most by a Spanish player in BCL history, hitting 10-of-14 shots from the field, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, and hitting all four free throws. The best part about Brizuela's madness? He did it in just 19 minutes and 26 seconds of work.

If we're here to claim Unicaja are a contender, then we're here to put Brizuela into the MVP talks, too.

#6 Olaseni deserves a honorable mention

When we're talking about the potential MVPs, we always have to take into account the fact that their team needs to go far in the competition in order for them to be selected as the MVP of the competition. In other words, one can't win unless they all win.

Gabriel Olaseni would've been an MVP favorite after putting together back-to-back 20+ point games for the first time in his 27 BCL appearances, but with Darussafaka dropping to 1-2, it's hard to talk about his 25-point game when there are people with similar numbers and a winning record.

But keep an eye on Gabe. He's averaging 19.7 points (#5 in BCL), 8.7 rebounds (#4) and 3.3 assists (#20) per game.

#7 Waller revival tour

Back in 2016-17, Antabia Waller entered the BCL while wearing Mornar Bar's jersey in Montenegro. His first four games saw him get double digit points, including a 29-point game against Mega Basket.

It would take 40 BCL games, but Waller found 25+ points once again in this competition. Igokea m:tel's shooter knocked down seven three-pointers and finished with 25 points against Surne Bilbao, showing signs that his shooting touch is still there.

Igokea need him to create some magic, especially because of how close their group is. Okay, Bilbao are up at 3-0, but Igokea, Bahcesehir College and ERA Nymburk are all at 1-2, with Igokea owning the best +/- at +9.

Every point counts. Waller is aware, that's why he put up his best game over the last 40 appearances.